RELEASE 09-21-2017: U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $499K to Support Entrepreneurship Efforts in Hampton Roads

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $499K to Support Entrepreneurship Efforts in Hampton Roads

– NIA Release: 2017-06 – September 21, 2017

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the National Institute of Aerospace, NIA, located in Hampton, Va., has been awarded a $499,833 i6 Challenge grant.  NIA partnered with local investment group 757 Angels and economic development organization Reinvent Hampton Roads to propose the 757 Accelerate program.

The 757 Accelerate proposal was the only successful application from Virginia, competing against more than 200 applicants from nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations in 28 states. “We are thrilled that NIA can have a role in this project.  We anticipate that the 757 Accelerator will help create at least 15 new viable companies in the area, contributing more than 100 new jobs to our local economy,” said James Closs, NIA Director of Research Program Development.

This accelerator program will operate as a mentor-driven, selective program focused on connecting promising startup and early stage companies in emerging technology sectors with vetted mentors, investors, support services, and educational opportunities throughout the region.  Daniel Morris, Executive Director of NIA’s REaKTOR Business Technology Innovation Center and Program Manager for the i6 Challenge Grant, said, “This is the first time regional leaders have set aside barriers on a venture of this magnitude.  By collaborating, we have found a way to coalesce unique regional resources, investors, mentorship, and research opportunities to create the environment we need to grow a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“The coveted i6 Challenge grants are awarded to capacity-building projects aimed at increasing regional entrepreneurship through support of innovation, research, and technology commercialization programs,” said Evans McMillion, Vice President of Research and Strategy at Reinvent Hampton Roads.  The 757 Accelerate submission was backed by an unprecedented coalition of regional partners that formed a winning combination.  More than 50 organizations came together to pledge support for this venture, but the core partners included five cities: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth; four universities:  Christopher Newport University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University; and one corporate sponsor, Towne Bank.  “The award of this grant is not just a happy ending, but rather an exciting beginning.  The real story here is the collaboration that will grow the economic diversity of not only Hampton Roads, but Southeastern Virginia,” says 757 Angels Executive Director Monique Adams.  “This award underscores the fact that we are stronger and better when we work together.  Our core partners’ belief in that collaborative ethos is what got us here, but it is their continued support that will help translate this win into real economic momentum for Hampton Roads,” said McMillion.

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), leads the Regional Innovation Strategies Program to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. The program is authorized through the America COMPETES reauthorization Act of 2010, and has received dedicated appropriations since FY2014.

To learn more about the Regional Innovation Strategies program and the awardee projects, visit:


Monique Adams
757 Angels, Inc., Hampton, Va.

Evans McMillion
Reinvent Hampton Roads, Hampton, Va.

Daniel Morris
National Institute of Aerospace, Hampton, Va.